The New York Times has a nice overview article on a new literary festival launching in Paris later this week, and run in part by Caro Llewellyn who directed the PEN World Voices Festival a few years back:
Paris is reaching out to recapture its place as a center of literature with a new festival of international writers that was set to begin Friday.
“There’s a sense in America that France is a country of culture, but when you are looking from the inside, a lot of people have been complaining that France needs to find its beating heart again,” said Lila Azam Zanganeh, a French-Iranian writer who now lives in New York and is one of the writers participating in the festival, Écrivains du Monde. [. . .]
The Écrivains du Monde festival may not, on its own, recreate the vibrant sense of literary experimentation and adventure of the first half of the 20th century, when Paris was home to the likes of Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco, but it marks a new appreciation of the primacy of international writing, in a country that despite a complex relationship with outsiders, has always embraced their contribution to the arts. [. . .]
The inaugural festival draws together some 28 writers from at least 18 countries. Most are not French themselves, but they have been translated into French and have a French following. The authors, who are speaking for small stipends, include some of the best-known fiction writers at work today: Salman Rushdie, John Banville, Richard Ford, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, David Grossman, Ma Jian and Michael Ondaatje. Also attending are several authors who write in French although not all of them are from France, including two from Lebanon and a Canadian-Haitian. The writers, who are coming for three days to Paris, with a few going on to spend two days in Lyon on Sept. 23 and 24, will hold intimate — and sometimes not so intimate — talks with their readers and literary enthusiasts. Panel discussions will take on topics like the challenges of translation, identity and conflict, literature and war.
“I preferred the war to the plague,” writes Curzio Malaparte in his 1949 novel, The Skin. He speaks of World War II and the destruction it has wrought on Italy, the city of Naples in particular. But the plague he. . .
With the steady rise of feminist scholarship and criticism in recent decades, it is little wonder that the work of Louise Labé should be attracting, as Richard Sieburth tells us in the Afterword to his translation, a “wide and thriving”. . .
In Conversations, we find ourselves again in the protagonist’s conscious and subconscious, which is mostly likely that of Mr. César Aira and consistent with prototypical Aira style. This style never fails because each time Aira is able to develop a. . .
You are not ashamed of what you do, but of what they see you do. Without realizing it, life can be an accumulation of secrets that permeates every last minute of our routine . . .
The narrative history of. . .
Literature in translation often comes with a certain pedigree. In this little corner of the world, with so few books making it into this comforting nook, it is often those of the highest quality that cross through, and attention is. . .
Alessandro Baricco’s Mr. Gwyn is a set of two loosely interlinked novellas that play with narrative and the construction of character. Ably translated by Ann Goldstein, Mr. Gwyn plays some subtle metafictional games as Baricco delves into what it means. . .
I must admit upfront that I went into reading Saadat Hasan Manto’s Bombay Stories almost entirely blind. I have not read Salman Rushdie. I have read, perhaps, two short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri. I might shamefully add that I really. . .
Throughout his work The Gray Notebook, Josep Pla mentions many different authors, some of whom have inspired him to pick up a pen. One of them is Marcel Proust. Even though Pla normally prefers nonfiction, he lauds the French novelist. . .
On that September 11th I had a conversation with a professor friend who was teaching a creative writing class that evening. He questioned, “What can I possibly teach when all of this has happened?” While the dismay and grief were. . .
In a story of two emotionally distant people, Japanese author Takashi Hiraide expertly evokes powerful feelings of love, loss, and friendship in his novel The Guest Cat. The life of the unnamed narrator and his wife, both writers, is calm. . .